Feb 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's VP survivor show has a big weekend ahead

This is Trump

Rep. Elise Stefanik at a January campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An open mic set is playing right now for Trump's vice presidential contenders.

Why it matters: Trump's flights of fancy are leaving the hopefuls scrambling to keep proving their worth — and their loyalty.

  • You're seeing it in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's primary, where Trump deployed the state's junior senator, Tim Scott, to campaign against Nikki Haley, who appointed him to the Senate.
  • Scott said voters "really want a bull in a china shop for a little while first" instead of the optimistic message of his own campaign, he told the Wall Street Journal.
  • He said he's "free from the internal struggle on how to promote myself without being braggadocious."

Zoom in: You will also see it just outside D.C., where the speaker list for the Conservative Political Action Conference has most of the names on Trump's public short list.

  • The speaker list includes Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. Byron Donalds, Sen. J.D. Vance, Gov. Kristi Noem, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Senate candidate Kari Lake.
  • Trump said "they are" when asked this week if Scott, Donalds, Ramaswamy, Noem, Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are on his short list.

Between the lines: DeSantis criticized the Trump team's search process during a private call with supporters this week, the N.Y. Times scooped.

  • "I have heard that they're looking more in identity politics. I think that's a mistake," DeSantis told supporters.
  • DeSantis said he wouldn't serve as VP, echoing his comments during the campaign.
  • Trump adviser Jason Miller fired back at DeSantis, threatening that "Thor's hammer will return" if "his popping off continues."
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